Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: Differences, Benefits and More

Although both derived from hemp, CBD oil and hemp seed oil are two radically different products with completely different uses. Understanding the differences between them is the key to choose the right supplements for you.

While hemp oil and CBD oil are often used interchangeably, understanding their differences is key to choosing the right supplements for you. Unsplash+

Hemp is a versatile crop with practical, nutritional and therapeutic applications. The terms “hemp oil,” “hemp seed oil” (or “hempseed oil”) and “CBD oil” are often used interchangeably. However, this confusion continues to result in customers buying the wrong products, especially on sites like Amazon, which are filled with misleading hemp supplements. Although derived from hemp, hemp seed oil and CBD oil are two radically different products used for completely unrelated reasons. Understanding the differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil is critical for choosing the correct hemp supplements.

Sign Up For Our Daily Newsletter

By clicking submit, you agree to our <a href="http://observermedia.com/terms">terms of service</a> and acknowledge we may use your information to send you emails, product samples, and promotions on this website and other properties. You can opt out anytime.

See all of our newsletters

What is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp oil and seeds.
Derived from hemp seeds, hemp seed oil is a staple of healthy eating, with studies showing its nutritional, cardiovascular and digestion benefits.

Hemp seed oil is a dietary supplement. Often labeled a “superfood” by health enthusiasts, hemp seed oil packs a serious nutritional punch. Like CBD products, hemp seed oil is made from components of the Cannabis sativa plant species.

However, these oils contain little to no CBD. Consequently, customers looking for therapeutic benefits won’t experience such results from hemp seed oil. Interestingly, some CBD oil manufacturers suspend their products in hemp seed oil, offering a mix of nutrition, symptom relief and overall wellness.

How Is It Made?

As the name implies, hemp seed oil is derived from hemp seeds.

First, the hemp seeds are cold-pressed in an industrial machine. This device places heavy pressure on the raw material, squeezing the oil out. As a bonus, the remaining seed matter can be pressed into hemp seed cake and used as chicken feed.

Cold-pressing isn’t exclusive to hemp seeds. It’s useful for extracting products like olive oil, sunflower oil or fruit juice. Although the yield is smaller than other juicing or pressing methods, the resulting extract is richer in nutrients.

What Are the Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil?

Hempseed oil’s benefits are more nutritional than therapeutic, but there’s some overlap with its CBD counterpart. Primarily, though, hemp seed oil has numerous benefits that make it a staple of healthy eating.

Nutritional Value

Although hemp seed oil’s benefits aren’t comparable to CBD’s, there is some minor overlap. Still, the former’s incredible nutritional value is best suited for daily nutrition. As we all know, being health-conscious can help reduce or prevent many symptoms and conditions CBD may alleviate.

Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-3 and other essential fatty acids. They also carry a plethora of other healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, including:

  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Arginine
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Vitamin E
  • Thiamine
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Essential amino acids

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular disease is one of the biggest causes of death worldwide. However, the laundry list of nutrients found in hemp seeds could be part of a preventative and healthy lifestyle, promoting cardiovascular health.

Limited research suggests CBD may help situational blood pressure, but hemp seed oil can also help improve heart health and possibly prevent heart disease.

A 2008 study examined the benefits of linoleic acid—an abundant nutrient in hemp seeds—on blood pressure. After gathering 4680 men and women from several different countries, the subjects were given linoleic acid or a placebo.

Over time, the observers noticed that consistent consumption helped maintain healthy blood pressure. They suggest that linoleic acid (and hemp seeds by association) may help prevent hypertension.

Research from 2006 also indicates that hemp seeds could promote cardiovascular health by lowering total cholesterol. It’s common knowledge that reducing cholesterol helps prevent complications like coronary heart disease.


The skin is the body’s largest organ, so it can be affected by an extensive list of conditions. Hemp seed oil contains omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, believed to help regulate immune response and reduce inflammation. Other nutrients, such as alpha gamma-linolenic acid play a key role.

This response triggers conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema), long-lasting skin condition marked by outbreaks of skin irritation, inflammation and redness.

Although many conventional treatments exist, one 2005 study examined anecdotal claims about hemp seed’s ability to reduce eczema. Researchers measured the levels of essential fatty acids in their human subjects after administering oral hempseed oil for 20 weeks.

The study found that hempseed oil helped balance the levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids in the eczema patients. As a result, there was a noticeable reduction in atopic dermatitis symptoms. Average consumption of eczema medication dropped as well.

Digestion and Weight Loss

We all know fiber is essential for digestion, and hemp seed oil provides plenty of it. Including this hemp extract in your diet is an effective way to keep you regular.

Research in the American Journal of Gastroenterology indicates that hemp seeds can help improve bowel movements. The experts provided various doses of hemp seed pills to individuals experiencing chronic constipation.

After monitoring and following up, the researchers noticed a marked reduction in constipation among the volunteers who consumed pills containing 7.5 g of hemp seeds.

Unlike CBD oil, which many claim improves appetite, hemp oil may also help with weight loss.

As we mentioned above, hemp seeds contain a lot of fiber. Aside from supporting digestive health, fiber is also an appetite suppressant. A review conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found an interesting correlation. Based on their research, the authors noted a connection between fiber intake and body weight.

Individuals who regularly consumed a high-fiber diet (be it from hemp oil or other sources) weighed less on average than their lower-fiber counterparts.

Ways to Use It

It’s easy to take advantage of hemp oil’s health benefits. There’s no right or wrong way to consume the product, so the consumption method boils down to personal preference.


Hemp oil bottles look virtually identical to CBD oil (or any oil supplement) containers. The product comes with a built-in dropper, allowing individuals to ingest it directly.

Although CBD oil is described to have a plant-like flavor, hemp seed extracts is described as more “nutty,” and a bit more palatable.


Capsules and pills are another option. These are compact and mess-free, making them fast, convenient and easy to carry.

The pills may contain hemp oil or crushed hemp seeds, allowing consumers to swallow the product without experiencing any taste.

In Foods

The nutty flavor of hemp seeds often helps improve the flavor of certain foods, adding variety to the daily supplement. Mixing hemp seed oil with everyday foods, like salad dressings, shakes and smoothies, is an excellent way to enjoy this powerful superfood.

Risks and Side Effects

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that cold-pressed hemp seed oil is “Generally Recognized as Safe”—or “GRAS” for short. It’s a simple dietary supplement with—ideally—no chemicals or additives. Digestion issues are sometimes reported, but these are rare, minor and usually temporary.

What is CBD Oil?

CBD oil refers to hemp-derived CBD extract suspended in a carrier oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, MCT and even hemp seed oil. CBD might offer various health benefits. However, unlike hemp seed oil, CBD is considered a mental and physical wellness supplement rather than a superfood.

CBD extracts are made from mature industrial hemp flowers instead of hemp seeds. Some brands also extract cannabinoids from the stems and leaves, but the highest concentration is in the flowers. When consumed orally, CBD oil may offer relief from various symptoms, along with some preventative benefits.

How Is It Made?

Multiple ways exist to make CBD oil, which vary in safety and complexity. CBD products derived from hemp must have up-to-date third-party tests for trace solvents, contaminants and label accuracy, regardless of how they’re manufactured.


Hydrocarbon is the most inexpensive way to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis sativa plant. However, it’s also the “dirtiest” option in terms of trace solvents. The plant matter is flushed with hydrocarbon compounds like propane or butane during processing. While hydrocarbon solvents effectively retain cannabis plant compounds, they can’t be fully flushed out, leaving residual amounts behind. Fortunately, the practice of hydrocarbon extraction for CBD oil is all but extinct, as vendors prefer cleaner options, like ethanol or CO2.


Alcohol extraction uses clear grain alcohol (ethanol)—the same type of alcohol found in beverages. Two ethanol methods are available: cold ethanol extraction and warm ethanol extraction.

Cold ethanol extraction isn’t complicated and can be done at home with a simple freezer. Manufacturers use large industrial freezers to bring the cannabis and ethanol to low temperatures separately, preventing the compounds from dissolving into the ethanol. Once cold enough, the two are thoroughly mixed, ultimately separating the cannabinoid-rich trichomes (crystal) and unwanted compounds from the plant matter.

Warm ethanol follows a similar principle. However, since the ethanol is not cold, an additional step, known as “winterization,” is needed to remove and cool the extract and separate impurities. This technique requires industrial equipment and expertise.

CO2 Extraction

Manufacturers perform CO2 extraction in several different ways, often using proprietary techniques. However, at its core, purifying with CO2 is based on the same principle as butane and ethanol.

Like the less preferred options, extracting cannabinoids requires a solvent, which vendors filter out of the final product. The key difference is that CO2 doesn’t require an additional filtration step. Once extraction is complete, all traces of carbon dioxide are gone.

CO2 is the best choice from a health and safety perspective. Unfortunately, conventional CO2 extraction is the least effective at retaining cannabis plant compounds. Recent advancements, however, have allowed companies to modify their processes to improve cannabinoid and terpene retention.

What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

Hemp plant extracts are credited with a long list of CBD benefits and few potential risks. However, few are backed by full clinical studies. Consequently, we can only make educated guesses about the health benefits of CBD.

However, some therapeutic uses have received a notable amount of attention. There are a lot of potential benefits to cover, so we’ll focus on some common and unique benefits.


Stress, anxiety and depression are all-too-common in society. Unfortunately, mood imbalances and the pressures of daily life can wear down our mental health, leading to an ongoing medical crisis with no end in sight.

However, thousands of people swore by the stress-relieving properties of CBD before any meaningful studies existed. But is it there validity to this claim? Some studies show promise.

We often hear about endocannabinoid receptors and how they interact with cannabinoids. Although CBD still affects those pathways, it does so indirectly rather than binding to them. CBD’s mechanism of action relies on other crucial neurotransmitters.

A 2014 U.S. National Library of Medicine study looked at the mechanism behind CBD’s alleged mood-boosting effects.

Interestingly, they saw an affinity for 5-HT1A and serotonin receptors, which significantly influence mood regulation. Although a large dose was required, the results indicate CBD may help reduce stress-related feelings.


Inflammation is at the core of many health issues. However, evidence continues to grow, suggesting that CBD oil and other CBD products may have anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2015 review of existing literature cited an experiment where researchers triggered arthritis symptoms in rodent subjects. After dispensing CBD to the mice, there was a notable reduction in inflammation.

Another interesting observation was CBD’s effects on immunity. Since inflammation is a key mechanism behind the severity of immune responses, it’s unsurprising that the researchers noticed immunosuppressive properties.

Severe Epilepsy

No evidence suggests that any cannabis plant extracts are effective against more common seizure disorders like generalized epilepsy. However, Dravet Syndrome and Lennox Gastaut Syndrome are two severe forms that appear in childhood. Patients can have multiple seizures a day, which may lead to brain damage.

Unfortunately, prescription medication isn’t very effective at controlling these conditions. However, studies ultimately revealed that CBD is effective against the disorders. This led to the release of Epidolex, the only FDA-approved CBD drug naturally derived from the cannabis plant.

A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine gathered a group of children with Dravet Syndrome and administered CBD in conjunction with conventional antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). A placebo group was also used for comparison.

The CBD group saw an average reduction in monthly seizures, going from 12.4 at the beginning of the study, to 5.9 after CBD treatment.

43% of the children experienced half as many episodes, while 5% stopped experiencing seizures altogether.

In 2018, more research from the New England Journal of Medicine studied the effects of CBD on Lennox Gastaut Syndrome.

Subjects were split into three groups, receiving 10 mg/kg, 20 mg/kg or placebo.

The results were similar to those of the Dravet Syndrome study one year earlier. The 10 and 20 mg groups experienced 37.2% and 41.9% drops in seizures, respectively. Although the placebo group also showed improvement, it was comparatively much lower, at only 17.2%


Some research indicates CBD could be a neuroprotectant. Its potential application for preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Multiple Sclerosis has been mentioned before.

However, some neurodegeneration is self-induced. Alcohol abuse can also gradually wear down the brain.

A 2019 review of existing literature examined a combination of animal and human studies. Based on their findings, CBD was able to both reduce alcohol consumption and protect brain cells from damage. However, it won’t reverse any kind of brain damage, nor will CBD prevent harm caused by alcohol abuse.

Ways to Use It

CBD oil can be consumed in a similar fashion to hemp oil. Both are meant to be taken orally to experience their respective potential benefits.

Unlike popular cannabis plant consumption methods, like smoking, ingesting CBD oil offers longer-lasting effects. Some consumers report sustained benefits for up to eight hours, although this may vary based on many factors. However, ingested CBD stays in your system well beyond that timeframe.

But CBD’s sustained effects have a tradeoff. Again, unlike smoking, the effects of ingested cannabis take time—typically 30 to 120 minutes—to begin. Consequently, it makes sense to use CBD for long-lasting effects, but not immediate relief.


CBD oil needs little introduction. Its use has exploded in recent years, with users and some studies suggesting that CBD products could offer therapeutic effects.

These extracts are pre-dosed using a dropper and then placed under the tongue for 60 to 90 seconds before swallowing.

Some CBD products are infused with other cannabinoids, like CBN and CBG sleep and relaxation.

CBD Softgels

For those who don’t enjoy the cannabis plant flavor of oil, softgels are a close alternative. These products contain full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate CBD oil.

CBD capsules are precisely dosed, easy to carry, convenient, flavorless, and mess-free.

However, one disadvantage is that capsules are swallowed directly, while the compounds in oil get partially absorbed under the tongue.

CBD Gummies

CBD gummies offer the same benefits as CBD capsules. But the gummy format allows users to enjoy their CBD doses with a decent variety of (ideally natural) flavors. Most CBD brands ensure that their gummies are kosher, vegan-friendly and gluten-free.

Some common formulations include CBN and CBD gummies for sleep; CBG and CBD gummies for anxiety and delta-8 THC with CBD for pain.

CBD Topicals

Topical application is an excellent option for people looking for quick, focal relief without consuming oil or capsules.

Many individuals use CBD cream for pain, joint pain, muscle pain, rashes and other localized discomfort.

Risks and Side Effects

There are few potential risks with hemp oil or CBD oil. While the cannabinoids found in hemp are still shrouded in mystery, hemp oil (or hemp seed oil) is full of nutrients with a plethora of documented health benefits.

However, CBD oil may be risky to individuals taking certain prescription medications, including antibiotics, antiepileptic drugs, blood pressure medication, birth control and more.

Other potential risks and side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite changes
  • Mood changes
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea

These effects are uncommon and usually temporary.

Key Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil

The potential health benefits of hemp oil and CBD oil somewhat overlap, but it’s important to clarify the key differences.

Chart comparing the following key differences between hemp oil and CBD oil: source, cannabinoid content, primary uses, key compounds, health benefits, interaction with receptors, legal status, taste and usage, extraction methods and regulatory aspects.
Colorado Botanicals

Hemp Oil

  • Made from cold-pressed hemp seeds
  • No THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids found in cannabis plants
  • Food supplement
  • Has preventative health benefits
  • High fatty acid content
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals
  • FDA-approved for use in foods
  • Has never been a controlled substance


  • Health supplement, rather than a nutritional supplement
  • Extracted from hemp flowers and other cannabis plant matter
  • Contains up to 0.3% THC by dry weight
  • Not FDA-approved, except for treatment of severe epilepsy and (more recently) tuberous sclerosis complex
  • May help relieve symptoms related to inflammatory conditions, pain, sleep issues, nausea, anxiety and others (although more research is needed)
  • Used to be a controlled substance until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill
  • Works by indirectly affecting the endocannabinoid system
  • Could trigger elevated liver enzymes when consumed with certain medications

Is Hemp Oil the Same As CBD Oil?

“Hemp oil” is often used interchangeably with “CBD oil,” but the two aren’t the same. Consequently, this leads to confusion. However, both offer health benefits that often overlap, such as cardiovascular health and skincare.

By definition, “hemp oil” is a generic term for the nutritional extract from pressed hemp seeds. Although rich in omega-3 fatty acids and a long list of vitamins and minerals, hemp oil contains no cannabinoids. Compounds like THC and CBD develop as the plant matures, not while dormant in a seed.

As the name implies, “CBD oil” is hemp extract containing various cannabinoids and terpenes. It’s used for its therapeutic potential rather than general nutrition. However, we’ve seen some overlap between the benefits of hemp oil and CBD oil.

Is Hemp Oil As Strong As CBD?

No, hemp oil is not as strong as CBD oil. Considering their differences, there are no ways to compare their strength.

Hemp oil is a strong, nutrient-rich superfood, while CBD oil is powerful because of its unique cannabis plant compounds.

Does Hemp Oil Make You Sleepy?

No, hemp oil doesn’t make you sleepy. It can, however, offer nutritional advantages. A better diet contributes to a general sense of wellness, including improved sleep.

Can You Take Hemp Oil and CBD Oil Together?

Yes, you can take hemp oil with CBD oil. If anything, it would be an excellent way to combine nutrition with the therapeutic effects of cannabis.

Is Hemp Oil or CBD Better for Pain?

Hemp oil has no therapeutic potential aside from nutritional benefits. However, supplements are part of a healthy lifestyle for many, and they can help prevent some conditions from developing.

We recommend trying cannabinoid products like CBD oil or CBD gummies for pain. Topical application with creams or balms is also an option for quick, focal relief.

Is Hemp Oil or CBD Better for Anxiety?

It’s best to try CBD for anxiety, as some preliminary research and user testimony support the use of cannabidiol for mood support.

Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil for Dogs: Which is Better?

Many pet owners provide CBD for dogs with various health issues. We often hear testimonies about quality-of-life improvements for dogs with pain, anxiety or inflammation.

However, hemp oil’s fatty acid content, protein, and fiber make it the perfect superfood to support a canine’s overall health.

Is “Hemp Oil” on Amazon CBD Oil?

No, almost every “hemp oil” product on Amazon isn’t CBD oil. This could be due to a misunderstanding since “hemp oil” is often used to refer to CBD oil.

However, these vendors are more likely to use misleading advertisements to trick customers. Fortunately, it’s easy to spot a fake.

Graphic comparing a legitimate Colorado Botanicals CBD Oil bottle to a fake one.
Colorado Botanicals

How to Avoid Being Scammed

In an unregulated market, let the buyer beware. Here are a few tips to ensure your “CBD oil” isn’t just hemp seed oil in disguise.

Colorado Botanicals

Do More Research

Carefully research any supposed CBD brand you find on Amazon. Check for independent online reviews on sites like Reddit or TrustPilot. Look for third-party lab tests to confirm safety and label accuracy.

Look for Red Flags

Two major red flags indicate that the CBD oil being sold is hemp seed oil.

First, look out for suspiciously high CBD content. Only so much CBD can be packed into a product, so if the total milligrams are significantly higher than other CBD oil products, this should raise an eyebrow.

The second red flag is that these products are surprisingly cheap despite their alleged potency.

Remember the adage: “If it’s too good to be true, it’s probably false.”

Read the Ingredients

Although companies might get away with selling fake CBD oil, they can’t ignore federal law. The FDA requires ingredients to be listed on all health supplements, including CBD oil and hemp oil.

The first ingredient should be “hemp extract,” usually preceded by the type (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate). If the label says “hemp oil” without listing the type of extract, the brand is likely trying to trick customers.

Check the Extraction Method

Most CBD vendors mention the production process of their extracts. If these products were made using hydrocarbon, ethanol or CO2 processes, then this is a guaranteed sign that—at the very least—the product is authentic CBD oil.

Remember, hemp oil (hemp seed oil) is only made by pressing the hemp seeds. If the label or product information mentions any other extraction technique, then this is a telltale indicator of CBD oil.

Buy Directly

The best way to avoid getting scammed on sites like Amazon is to avoid purchasing CBD oil from large online marketplaces in the first place.

Reputable vendors have dedicated websites where customers order their products directly. Additionally, all the information needed to vet the company is available on their sites.

Conclusion: CBD Oil vs. Hemp Oil

Although CBD oil and hemp oil are completely different in terms of content and intended use, consuming them both as part of a regular health routine can be highly effective.

Hemp seed oil has preventative benefits, while CBD oil might treat any symptoms or issues that develop. However, prevention is always the best treatment, which means hemp seed oil is just as valuable as CBD for reducing or avoiding potential health issues in the future.

Be mindful of who you buy from, and steer clear of marketplaces like Amazon or eBay.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: Differences, Benefits and More